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Arts Vanity: Windows Down, Broken Aux Cord: A Groove Groove Revolution

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There are a few simple truths in life: Roosters will always crow at dawn, Floridians will never learn how to use their turn signals on 6-lane highways, and, if riding in my car, anticipate a few brief intermissions in the tracklist. In the nearly five years since a middle-aged woman passed me my freshly printed drivers license under the nauseating LED lights of the Florida DMV office, my aux cord has been broken. Yes, I’ve purchased new ones — and yes, each time they’ve devolved into unpredictable beat scratches and reverb that concern even the most talented of DJ’s.

At this point, I admit that I’m the problem — but, as a caveat, the volatility of my track list has made me reflect on which songs deserve to take center stage, if only for a few uninterrupted minutes. While my commute now features the shrieks and groans of the Boston MBTA in place of my car’s exhausted suspension system, these are ten songs that cure my seasonal depression and give me my melanin back in the dead of winter. Best of all, you can sing them even when the aux cuts out.

1. “December” (IDK): In the acclaimed television series “The Magic School Bus,” wacky science teacher Ms. Frizzle takes her traumatized students on a field trip into the human digestive system where they play around in the large intestine. If she had taken a detour into my psyche instead, they would have heard this song playing on loop. A mix of reggae and hip-hop, “December” is everything I could ever want — and more.

2. “Dragonball Durag” (Thundercat): Like velvet, soul train, and Jamaican-Black Castor Oil, “Dragonball Durag” is a time-machine to the 1970s that I can’t help entering again and again.

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3. “I’m Still in Love With You” (Sean Paul ft. Sasha): From Sundays at my grandma’s house to car rides in the back of my mom’s SUV, this song is generational. It’s my grandma’s yucca, my mom’s shoulder-grooves, and my sister’s speaker blaring 30 decibels too loud.

4. “I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love” (Snoh Aalegra): Swedish-Iranian singer Snoh Aalegra is the future of soul. Off of her 2019 album “Ugh, Those Feels Again,” “I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love” is a never-skip, always-belt track that will surely make its way onto my 2023 Spotify Wrapped.

5. “Self Control” (Frank Ocean): A staple in my music library since 2016, “Self Control” isn’t for the faint of heart. Layering nostalgic vocals over melodic strings, it’s wistful and a little bit heartbroken — but aren’t we all?

6. “Titi Me Preguntó” (Bad Bunny): The party anthem of the summer, “Titi Me Preguntó” is for the people. If you aren’t listening to reggaetón, what are you doing?

7. “U Should” (CHIKA): This song came up on shuffle as I navigated down California 1, or PCH as the locals call it, on the middle leg of a multi-day road trip with one of my best friends. With wasabi puffs and Diet Coke littering the middle console and an Australian Siri shouting last minute directions in our ears, we watched the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. “U Should” feels like that sunset — oil-painted hues of pink and yellow, ocean-views, and memories in the making.

8. “YiPiYaY” (Aminé): Anyone who knows me is aware of my infatuation with Aminé. A balance of hype and introspective, he has consistently been my top-played artist for the past few years. I could’ve placed any of his songs in this slot and it would have just made sense.

9. “Love Yourz” (J. Cole): A classic, “Love Yourz” is a welcome reminder to live life with gratitude. Accompanied by J. Cole’s smooth flow and easy lyricism, I’ve never once skipped this song — and I probably never will.

10. “Small Worlds” (Mac Miller): I remember the first time I listened to Mac — I was sad, in a high school sort of way, and his vulnerability took me by surprise. This was in 2018, a few weeks before his death. A combination of funky basslines and self-reflective flow, “Small Worlds” is about being human — and all of the mess that comes with it. Four years later, his voice still brings me back to myself.

—Retiring Culture Editor and Incoming Arts Chair Anya L. Henry will be accepting song recommendations at anya.henry@thecrimson.com. To see what she’s currently listening to, check out her Spotify @yanyahenny.

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